Cheltenham Borough Council
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Agenda item

Public conveniences

Mark Sheldon, Director of Corporate Projects

Minutes:

The Director of Projects introduced the report, as circulated with the agenda.  He reminded members that the committee had considered a report in July which outlined the current provision of the Authority’s public toilets, as well as four options for how these amenities might be managed in the future.  All with the aim of providing improved access to high quality facilities.  The committee supported option 3 (to retain selective facilities and seek a community partnership initiative to provide public access to alternative facilities) and Cabinet in turn, agreed to undertake a consultation exercise in respect of option 3.  Having concluded this consultation, which involved third sector partners, businesses and members of the public, as well as learnings shared by Gloucester City Council on their Community Partnership Scheme, the report identified opportunities and recommendations for improvements to the future provision of public conveniences in the town centre.  Results appeared to support the proposal to retain selected facilities and undertake a community partnership initiative and the business community also seemed to support this, with John Lewis, House of Fraser, Mr Mulligans Crazy Golf and Treble 2 Coffee House, as well as the Cheltenham Trust, having shown initial interest.  The recommendation was that toilets located in Montpellier, Pittville and Sandford Park, be retained, with Montpellier and Pittville requiring refurbishment, within a ten year period, and Sandford Park being redeveloped, in close proximity to the current site near the children’s play area.  Bath Terrace, Imperial Gardens and Royal Well had all been identified for closure, with a community partnership offering improved access to better quality facilities, which would generate an annual saving of £97k.  He noted that there was still a commitment to create a town centre Changing Places facility, which could potentially be located in the Regents Arcade, though negotiations on this were ongoing.  Where alternative facilities had not yet been identified as part of a community partnership scheme, more targeted consultation would be undertaken, though it was also noted that Gloucester City had observed increased take-up following implementation. 

 

The Director of Projects gave the following responses to member questions: 

 

·         The consultation had not resulted in a particularly good response level from Bath Road businesses and it was for this reason that more targeted consultation would be undertaken.  There would be no closure of toilets until a workable scheme had been identified.

·         The Royal Well facilities had been identified for closure but members were reminded that toilets were located right across the road, in addition to the nearby Municipal offices and Trust buildings.  It was clear that signposting would be crucial to the success of any partnership scheme. 

·         An annual payment of £500 would be offered to businesses for their involvement in the scheme, though it could be, as was the case in Gloucester, that not all businesses would require payment. 

·         There would be a minimum standard expected from any facilities and certain stores would not be considered for inclusion by their nature (i.e. bookmakers, lingerie shops). 

·         Gloucestershire County Council had committed to fund a town centre Changing Places facility and Bath Road did not quite meet that town centre location.  It was also questionable as to whether the Bath Terrace site would actually be adaptable. 

·         The Town Hall facilities could be offered as an alternative to the Imperial Gardens, should they be closed.

·         The option currently being explored in terms of Sandford Park would involve demolishing the existing building and creating a new one in a more central location.

·         Much of the focus had been on day-time provision given the condition and existing opening hours of the council’s facilities and he felt that a partnership scheme would improve the night-time offer at the same time. 

·         The refurbishment costs outlined in Appendix C had been provided by the Property Team and were indicative only, at this stage.  It was noted that it was sometimes cheaper to create a new structure than to refurbish an existing structure.

·         With the opening of a cinema complex, the Regent Arcade would be open into the evening, which is why it was considered to be the best location for a town centre Changing Places facility.

·         It would be made clear to any businesses wishing to sign-up to the scheme that there would be no obligation on people using their facilities, to buy anything.

 

Member comments included:

 

·         In the context of the Place Strategy, the decision to close the facilities at Royal Well seemed odd, as a welcome to people accessing the town by coach. 

·         Members were pleased that Pittville Park and Montpellier gardens would be refurbished.

·         The facilities in many of the business premises on Bath Road were no particularly accessible, with many either up or down a set of stairs. 

·         Cabinet were urged to consider carefully, any decisions to close facilities, and to seriously consider provision for the night-time economy. 

·         Loss of the Imperial Gardens facilities could lead to some people to use the gardens, having spent the afternoon in the beer garden.

·         A request was made that any decisions be fully reviewed after a period of time. 

 

The Chairman thanked the Director of Projects for his attendance.  

Supporting documents: